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Would Edwards Back Clinton Candidacy?; Interview With Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo

Aired November 13, 2007 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, happening now: Democrats accused of fuzzy math. Are they revealing the true and staggering cost of the war in Iraq or are they using numbers to score political points?
Also this hour, a presidential candidate accused of playing the fear card. I will ask Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo if he is trying to scare voters in a stunning new ad.

And John Edwards just won't bite. But will he support Hillary Clinton if, if she is the Democratic presidential nominee? Jack Cafferty and our other panelists, they're standing to take on Edwards' surprising statement.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Congressional Democrats say the actual cost of the war is double -- repeat, double -- of what the White House has asked for so far. A report released today focusing in on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush administration asked for $804 billion for the military action, but so far, according to the Joint Economic Committee, the actual cost of the war is, get this, $1.6 trillion and that number could actually double again in the coming years.

Our congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin is standing by with details.

It's a huge, huge number, Jessica, $1.6 trillion. But here's the question. Is that number right?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Republicans ask the White House say no way. They say this report is riddled with errors and they call it an exercise in political hyperbole.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (voice-over): Democrats say it's time to count the money funding the war.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The cost of the war is becoming the $800 billion gorilla in the room when it comes to opposition to the war.

YELLIN: Eight hundred billion dollars, that's how much the president has requested for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But a new report by congressional Democrats claims the real cost of those wars has been double that, $1.6 trillion. That includes what Democrats call the hidden costs, like lost productivity and the rising price of oil. It's a far cry from the price tag the administration put on the Iraq war before combat began.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, the Office of Management and Budget has come up with a number that's something under $50 billion for the cost.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: Democrats argue the staggering new numbers prove the Bush administration has misled Americans.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We cannot afford this war; $12 billion a month? We just can't, we can't continue.

YELLIN: But Republicans say they won't apologize for spending money on the war on terror.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Of course, the war has been costly, but we have been protected from attack here at home.

YELLIN: And they accuse the Democrats of using fuzzy math. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office conducted a similar study on the total cost of war and they came up with a significantly smaller figure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: Now, all this comes as Congress is poised to vote on a new proposal to give $50 billion to the president for the war in Iraq, but it comes with strings that would include a drawdown of some troops. The president has already vowed to veto that measure and Democrats say if he vetoes it, he won't get any new Iraq money this year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jessica, thank you.

And we're getting this response from the Bush administration to the Democrats' numbers.

Let me quote: "The report released today by Democrats is an unfortunate example of the congressional leadership attempting to manipulate economic data for public relations purposes. Instead of providing our men and women in uniform the resources they need by sending the president a clean supplemental bill, Democrats are trying to distort reality for political gain" -- that statement from the Bush administration.

Let's turn now to presidential politics. Conservatives right now are at odds over who they want to support the president. Various Republican candidates have picked up various support, but today Fred Thompson did win an endorsement that one group suggests could change the entire Republican race.

Let's go to our congressional correspondent Dana Bash. She's joining us now with more on this story.

How big of a deal, Dana, is this for Fred Thompson?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I talked to a lot of Republican strategists about this today. Most were a little surprised that one of the largest Republican grassroots anti-abortion groups is backing someone who is in single digits in key statewide polls, but nearly everyone I talked to admitted this endorsement is a coup for Fred Thompson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice over): It is a much needed boost from the right for a struggling candidate.

WENDY FRANZ, NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE COMMITTEE: Fred Thompson had a strong, consistent pro-life record.

BASH: The National Right to Life Committee is backing Fred Thompson because of long-held positions against abortion and stem-cell research.

FRED THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have got 100 percent pro-life voting record.

BASH: But this is also an endorsement borne of pure political calculation.

DAVID O'STEEN, NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE COMMITTEE: The overwhelming consensus has been that he is best positioned to top pro- abortion candidate Rudy Giuliani for the Republican nomination.

BASH: Because of that, the group is downplaying some of Thompson's abortion comments that anger social conservatives, like his opposition to a Republican platform plank supporting a constitutional amendment banning abortion.

THOMPSON: I think people ought to be free, state and local levels, to make decisions that even Fred Thompson disagrees with.

BASH: This Thompson endorsement is the latest sign of division among social conservatives. Rudy Giuliani won the backing of Pat Robertson, and John McCain was endorsed by one-time rival Senator Sam Brownback. But the National Right to Life Committee brings something those do not. It is a large grassroots organization with a potential to mobilize support for Thompson in key states like Iowa and South Carolina.

ORAN P. SMITH, PRESIDENT, PALMETTO FAMILY COUNCIL: They have the best database in South Carolina of evangelical voters bar none. They have been putting names into that database for 20 years.

BASH: Still, one endorsement will not answer what looms the biggest question over what many conservatives see as a lethargic campaign.

SMITH: Does he really have that fire in the belly that he needs to win?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Now, that is a question Republicans strategists, even those inside the Thompson campaign, admit must be answered now. Can he parlay this endorsement? Can he take advantage of it to break out of the pack in South Carolina, break out of single digits in Iowa, and find some much-needed momentum before its too late, Wolf?

BLITZER: Dana, thank you for that -- Dana Bash reporting.

The military crackdown in Pakistan is not keeping a lid on tensions. The Bush administration now sending its number-two diplomat to personally urge an end to the crackdown, the deputy secretary of state, John Negroponte.

And the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, is locked in her home right now surrounded by security forces, but she's not keeping silent. She's calling on the president, General Pervez Musharraf, simply to quit.

I spoke it her earlier in an exclusive interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Do you believe Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure?

BENAZIR BHUTTO, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN: I certainly hope it's secure.

I have been told that we got international assistance in putting together a control and command structure. But, on the other hand, if Pakistan begins to implode from within, anything could happen. The entire command structure could break down.

And I worry that General Musharraf seems to concentrate more on cracking down on the moderate forces than in dealing with the extremists and the terrorists. And unless he restores democracy, the terrorists are going to gain.

But I have also come to the conclusion that General Musharraf will never restore democracy. And that's why I'm calling upon him to step down both as president and as chief of army staff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And the deputy secretary of state, John Negroponte, is due in Pakistan later this week. We're told he will call for free and fair elections.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He's in New York with "The Cafferty File."

I don't think we can overestimate, overstate how significant what's happening in Pakistan is right now, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: It's terrifying. I mean, and there doesn't appear to be any resolution and it's been going on now for, what, more than a week.

BLITZER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: It's very scary stuff and you don't want to speculate about how it's going to eventually turn out. You might wind up not being able to sleep at night.

However, that said, we have good news in Iraq, of all places. U.S. troop deaths there last month the lowest in more than a year-and- a-half. And the number of casualties has declined in four out of the last five months; 38 troops died in October. Compare that to last spring, April, the death toll 104, May 126, June 101.

Commanders say a new strategy in Iraq backed by those additional 30,000 troops has led to less violence and weakened al Qaeda. Just yesterday officials said the number of roadside bombs found in Iraq has declined sharply and rocket and mortar attacks have dropped to their lowest levels in almost two years.

Nevertheless, the Iraq war is still very unpopular among the American people. A recent CNN/Opinion Research poll found that opposition to the war in Iraq has reached an all-time high, despite the drop in violence; 68 percent of us say that we're opposed to the war. Only 31 percent of us are in favor of it; 65 percent of Americans say things are going badly in Iraq; 34 percent say they're going well.

And when asked who is winning the war in Iraq, 27 percent say the U.S.; 10 percent say the insurgents; 62 percent say nobody's winning.

So, here's the question. Does the decline in the number of U.S. casualties change your mind about the war in Iraq? Send your thoughts on that to caffertyfile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/caffertyfile.

Very good news that the number of American kids being killed over there is declining, but the American public's not buying this whole idea of the war to begin with, Wolf. They're not going for it.

BLITZER: A lot of Americans have already made up their minds.

All right, Jack, stand by. We have got you in our roundtable discussion that's coming up this hour as well.

CAFFERTY: I wouldn't miss it.

BLITZER: A very popular feature that we have in THE SITUATION ROOM.

This reminder to our viewers, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starting at its new time, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, at the top of the hour, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT."

Also, coming up now in THE SITUATION ROOM, it's not your typical political ad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, TANCREDO CAMPAIGN AD)

NARRATOR: The price we pay for spineless politicians who refuse to defend our borders against those who come to kill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Strong images, stronger language from presidential candidate Tom Tancredo. Is he trying to scare voters? He will tell us.

Also, health officials scrambling to curb a potentially lethal bird flu outbreak. Can they stop it before it spreads?

And Mitt Romney now setting a record for campaign ad spending. Will it make a difference? Will his money hold out?

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A Republican presidential candidate is now being accused of trying to scare American voters in a stunning new TV ad. Congressman Tom Tancredo's commercial depicts a terror attack at a shopping mall. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, TANCREDO CAMPAIGN AD)

REP. TOM TANCREDO (R-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hi, I'm Tom Tancredo, and I approve this message, because someone needs to say it.

NARRATOR: There are consequences to open borders beyond the 20 million aliens who have come to take our jobs.

Islamic terrorists now freely roam U.S. soil, jihadists who froth with hate here to do as they have in London, Spain, Russia, the price we pay for spineless politicians who refuse to defend our borders against those who come to kill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now is Congressman Tom Tancredo. He's a Republican presidential candidate.

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

TANCREDO: Sure.

BLITZER: I think everybody who sees that ad sees it for what it is, a very, very frightening, scary ad. But are you going too far in raising these fears that Islamic terrorists are, as you call it in the ad -- Islamic terrorists; that's right -- are crossing the borders illegally, getting into the United States? TANCREDO: Well, about four days ago, I think, there was a report that came out from the FBI -- a warning, not a report -- that came out from the FBI, went out to all local law enforcement agencies, saying that, in fact, al Qaeda was planning to attack malls during the Christmas holidays.

They specifically cited Chicago and Los Angeles as being the places where these attacks were potentially to occur. They said that it was a credible source. This was just four days ago.

We have testimony in the Congress of the United States. It was -- admittedly, we had to require the FBI to come in and provide the testimony, they didn't want to. But they have testified to the fact that, yes, indeed, people have crossed our southern border, they have been -- we have caught some of them here. They are connected with terrorist organizations.

BLITZER: Congressman, are you using fear to try to get votes?

TANCREDO: I am using reality. I am asking all of the candidates who are involved in this race, anybody who thinks they should be president of the United States had better pay attention to this.

Do you think -- do you think, Wolf, that this is not a serious issue? Do you think that there is a candidate out there who should not discuss this?

I want them to discuss it. I want to know what they're going to do about it, specifically.

Do they have the guts to do what is necessary to do to protect this country?

And, if not, they don't deserve to be president. And they sure as heck should be forced into discussing it.

BLITZER: You know your critics are already suggesting these are -- these ads -- this ad, specifically, is an act of political desperation, given your low numbers in the polls.

For example, in this latest New Hampshire poll, you're at 1 percent. In Iowa, you're at 2 percent. In South Carolina, you're at 1 percent.

Is this an act of political desperation right now?

TANCREDO: I will tell you, Wolf, never, ever did I expect to be a top-tier candidate, certainly at this point in time -- never.

I am not surprised by this. And it certainly -- it's nothing new. All I'm saying to you is this. I believe my candidacy, at 1 percent or 2 percent, I believe my candidacy has forced the issue of immigration to the top tier of debate topics. I will tell you that.

And now I'm trying to force it to the next level, to the really important part of this debate. And you know what? Whether it gets me 1 percent or no percent, it doesn't matter. Is the issue something we, as presidential candidates, we as a nation, should be confronting? I certainly believe that's true. And I don't care whether this runs my numbers up or down.

BLITZER: From your perspective, you're the first best, but who's the second-best candidate, from your perspective?

(LAUGHTER)

TANCREDO: Oh, I don't know. I suppose Duncan. He's got a pretty good handle on the border idea.

BLITZER: Duncan Hunter, but he's also not necessarily one of the top-tier.

TANCREDO: That's right.

BLITZER: Any of the top-tier candidates you like?

TANCREDO: Well, I like them, but whether or not...

BLITZER: On this issue. On this issue.

TANCREDO: On the issue? On the issue, they're all weak sisters, unfortunately. They're all, every single one of them -- and I wish this were not true, because they are the top-tier, because they have got the best chance of winning.

You know, the rhetoric is now OK. We have forced them there. But I don't know if it's coming from the heart or from the spinmeister. I don't know.

I tell you, when I do something...

BLITZER: So just want to be precise...

TANCREDO: When I say something, I guarantee it's coming from my heart.

BLITZER: I know. I have known you for a long time.

But just to be precise, you don't think Giuliani's got a good stance on illegal immigration?

TANCREDO: Oh, my gosh. Don't I wish.

You know, when he was the mayor and was pushing the whole idea of sanctuary cities, and now pretends that they don't matter and he really wasn't and he just had to have something to do with the millions of people who were there illegally -- well, Mr. Mayor, there is something to do with people who are here illegally, you know? You deport them. (inaudible) explain this to you if you don't get it.

BLITZER: What about Mitt Romney?

TANCREDO: Same thing. I just don't know if it's for sure. I can't tell if he's real about it. Is it just rhetoric? I don't know. Sometimes, I get the feeling that it's just because we have pushed them on the issue, because they know they have to address it to a conservative primary audience of Republican voters.

I just wish I had the feeling that they meant it, that's all. And right now, I must tell you, it just feels like a lot of talk.

BLITZER: Tom Tancredo, the Republican presidential candidate.

Thanks very much for coming in.

TANCREDO: Thanks, Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And, by the way, we checked into something Congressman Tancredo said, that red flag raised about a possible al Qaeda attack on shopping malls. It was actually part of an FBI report. It wasn't a formal warning. Law enforcement sources tell CNN the intelligence in that report was not -- repeat, not -- corroborated.

Rushing to halt a bird flu outbreak. British health officials kill thousands of birds. Can they keep it in check? We will update you on what's going on.

And it's the site of this week's presidential Democratic debate. Coming up, one reason candidates will be watching how this state votes.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now from around the world.

Carol, what is going on?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Couple of things, Wolf.

Health officials are trying to stop another bird flu outbreak from spreading into the United Kingdom. The potentially lethal virus was found at a poultry farm in eastern England. More than 6,000 turkeys, geese and ducks are being killed as a precaution. And a two- mile protection zone rings the farm. It's the fourth bird flu outbreak in Britain this year.

One week after Yahoo! apologized to the families of two jailed Chinese journalists, the Internet company has now settled a lawsuit filed by the men. The journalists say they were jailed and tortured after Yahoo! turned over their e-mail to Chinese authorities. Yahoo! says it was complying with Chinese law.

An attorney tells CNN Yahoo! is promising the journalists' families they will do everything possible to get them out of prison. The State Department trying to avoid sending unwilling diplomats to Iraq. So, it is extending voluntary sign-up until week's end. Volunteers have signed up for more than 200 foreign service officer posts in Iraq for a one-year rotation. But there are still 11 empty slots and that's fueling speculation some people will be forced to go. One veteran foreign service officer calls an assignment to Iraq a kind of death sentence.

That's a look at the headlines right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Carol, very much.

A college student says Hillary Clinton's campaign has turned her against politics. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MURIEL GALLO-CHASANOFF, GRINNELL COLLEGE STUDENT: I felt like I wanted to get the whole story out, just so that people can know the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We're going to have an exclusive interview with a woman who says she was fed a question by a Clinton staffer.

Plus, the real cost of the war in Iraq. Are Democrats twisting the numbers, or is the White House? Jack Cafferty and our panel standing by to cut through the partisan spin.

And the Las Vegas implosion, or explosion, as some are calling it. Just two days before CNN's next presidential debate, the new Nevada is changing politics out West. There was an implosion there, a major hotel, earlier today.

Stick around. You are going to see all that -- right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening right now: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there's a report that's out now suggesting the cost of these wars twice, twice as much as we're being told. We will show you what the Democrats are saying is the hidden costs, $1.6 trillion.

Also, Mitt Romney shelling out a record amount of campaign cash. You are going to find out where the Republican presidential candidate is spending it and what he's getting his money for.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now, a college student accusing Hillary Clinton's campaign of dishonesty. And she says you have the right to know what the campaign did. It involves the young woman given a question to ask Hillary Clinton at a recent event. She speaks exclusively to CNN.

Let's go to Mary Snow. She is watching the story for us.

What is this young woman saying?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, she says she felt the need to tell voters what really happened. The 19-year-old Grinnell College student told us she considers question-and-answer sessions with candidates in Iowa very important, and that voters expect honesty.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MURIEL GALLO-CHASANOFF, GRINNELL COLLEGE STUDENT: I felt like I wanted to get the whole story out, just so that people can know the truth.

SNOW (voice-over): Nineteen year-old Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff is speaking out after being at the center of an embarrassing moment for the Clinton campaign. It admits an aide gave the Grinnell College sophomore a question to ask Senator Clinton at an event in Iowa last week.

GALLO-CHASANOFF: He showed me in his binder, he had a piece of paper that had typed-out questions on it. And the top one was planned specifically for a college student. It said, like, college student.

SNOW: The Clinton campaign has said the Democratic presidential hopeful was not aware the question was planted.

GALLO-CHASANOFF: As a young person, I'm worried about the long- term effects of global warming. How did you plan to combat climate change?

SNOW: Why did she go along with the scripted question?

GALLO-CHASANOFF: It seemed silly, but it really just didn't occur to me what the implications could be until a long time afterwards.

SNOW: Gallo-Chasanoff says she overheard another man in the audience saying that he, too, was given a question by the Clinton campaign. When we asked a campaign spokesman about that, he declined any more comments, saying: "We've addressed this incident repeatedly over the past several days. The senator had no idea who she was calling on and this is not acceptable campaign process moving forward. We've taken steps to ensure that it never happens again."

Former presidential adviser David Gergen says among political campaigns of all stripes, planting a question is not unheard of.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: When a campaign plants a question, that's a pretty minor infraction of the rules -- like a parking ticket. The problem here is that it feeds a perception -- a damaging perception of Hillary Clinton, that she doesn't -- she can't quite be trusted. (END VIDEO TAPE)

SNOW: As for Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff, she told our producer, Chris Welch, that she's undecided about who she'll vote for. But she says the whole experience has left her both jaded and disappointed in the political process -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary, thank you.

Mary Snow reporting for us.

Congressional Democrats now say the true cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as much as $1.6 trillion over six years.

In our roundtable tonight to talk about that and more, our CNN senior political analyst, Gloria Borger. She's here in Washington.

Our own Jack Cafferty. He's in New York. He's the author, as our viewers know, of "It's Getting Ugly Out There," a major best-seller.

And, also, Jeff Toobin, the author of "The Nine" -- an inside look at the Supreme Court.

Guys, thanks very much for joining us.

So let's talk, Jack, about this hidden cost. This study that was put together largely by Democrats suggesting when you add in the higher oil prices, the expense -- the long-term expense of treating wounded veterans and the interest payments on the money that's being borrowed to pay for this war, it doesn't come out to $800 billion -- which is the administration's price tag -- but more like $1.6 trillion.

What do you think?

CAFFERTY: Well, the other significant component is the equipment that's being lost and has to be replaced from the Iraq War. And it's not just the Democrats who have come up with these numbers. I had a story on The Cafferty File in September about a private organization that did an analysis that's very similar.

But don't be fooled. The Democrats need the war.

And, you know, let's face it, they're the ones who fund this stuff, right?

So if it's $1.6 trillion, they're the ones that are coming up with the money. But they need the war because they can't run next year against the Republicans unless they have the war as a campaign issue. They certainly can't run on their long list of accomplishments since they've controlled the Congress over the last year. So these -- these morons -- all of them -- are playing politics with our kids, who are getting caught up in a meat grinder -- that is, the war in Iraq. And it's a national disgrace.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Jack, I don't think that's fair. I mean the Democrats are trying to stop the war.

CAFFERTY: Come on.

TOOBIN: Not all of them. They don't have the votes.

I mean, come on, you don't think most Democrats in the...

CAFFERTY: Jeffrey...

TOOBIN: ...in the House and the Senate want to stop the war?

I think they do.

CAFFERTY: Jeffrey...

TOOBIN: I don't think that's fair.

CAFFERTY: Look up the...

GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think...

CAFFERTY: Look up the duties of the House -- the speaker of the House of Representatives. The speaker of the House decides which bills get voted on. If they don't come to the floor for a vote, there isn't any money. That is within Nancy Pelosi's purview as her duty as speaker of the House of Representatives. The Democrats can cut the funding for this war any time they want to.

BORGER: Right. I agree with Jack, actually. The Democrats are not -- particularly in the Senate -- they're not willing to vote to cut off the money for the troops in Iraq or to cut off the money for the -- for the upgrades in armored vehicles. They're just not going to do that politically.

BLITZER: Yes, Jeff, go ahead.

TOOBIN: What -- no, I just -- it's not an all or nothing proposition. I mean, you know, the Democrats, I think, have tried many different ways and they don't have the votes. Yes, Nancy Pelosi could blow up the whole thing and start from zero. But, you know, I don't think that's a realistic prospect for someone who is a responsible person, with 130,000 troops in harm's way, to simply give them no money.

But to say that they're...

CAFFERTY: That's...

TOOBIN: ...they could end the war tomorrow, I just don't think that's realistic.

CAFFERTY: Well, I think the idea of not giving them any money is a misconception. There's plenty of money available to withdraw our forces. Seventy percent of Americans don't want this war. They've made it very clear. And yet, you know, the party -- the Democrats that campaigned on the midterm elections to stop the war have done nothing to stop the war.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Gloria...

BORGER: Well, look at the Demo...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Go ahead, Gloria.

Then I want to ask you a question.

BORGER: OK. I mean the Democratic presidential candidates have also said that they believe that there's going to be some kind of troop presence in Iraq until 2013. And a lot of members of the American public don't want that to happen, either. But they say that's just realistic.

BLITZER: Well, what do you make, Gloria, of Jack's point that the Democrats really want this war to go on because that's the single best issue they have going into the presidential election?

BORGER: Jack, I would have to say that's very cynical of you.

CAFFERTY: It's also...

What would you say to that?

CAFFERTY: It's also true.

BORGER: I think...

(LAUGHTER).

BORGER: Jack...

TOOBIN: I mean, Jack, I don't think that. I mean come on. There are 30...

CAFFERTY: Well, what does a...

TOOBIN: ...30 to 100 people dying every month.

Do you think that the people who are opposed to the war want that to continue?

CAFFERTY: Oh, look...

TOOBIN: I mean, come on. I don't think so, Jack.

CAFFERTY: I mean where...

BORGER: I don't...

CAFFERTY: Where was the conscience of the people who went into Iraq with no provocation and on phony intelligence and have sat idly by while 4,000 people have been killed?

Those politicians have no conscience. You know that.

BORGER: You know, I think it's almost immaterial, honestly, because it doesn't matter whether they want it or don't want it, they're going to have it.

BLITZER: Is this going to be the single biggest issue, Jeffrey, going into this election, mainly the war in Iraq?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean this war -- this election is going to be about the war. And there is a difference between the Democratic and Republican positions on it -- all of the Democrats and all of the Republicans, except Ron Paul.

BLITZER: All right, let's take a break and continue this conversation on the other side.

Is it bad blood boiling over?

You'll find out what John Edwards apparently won't say about Hillary Clinton that has some political tongues wagging.

Plus, we'll take you live to Las Vegas. I'll be there hosting the next live Democratic debate only two days away.

Stick around.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: More evidence of lots of bad blood between John Edwards and Hillary Clinton.

Let's continue with our roundtable. Jack, we'll start with you.

I want you to listen very closely. First of all, in "The New York Times," John Edwards was asked, according to "The New York Times," whether he would support Hillary Clinton if she were the Democratic nominee. And he said: "I'm not willing to talk about that at this point."

Well, that got a lot of people upset, that he's not willing to commit to the Democratic ticket. Chris Dodd, another candidate, said: "I'm surprised at just how angry John has become. This is not the same John Edwards I once knew. Of course we should all come together it support the nominee. I wonder which of the Republicans John prefers to Hillary."

To which John Edwards, later in the day, came out with this further elaboration.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) QUESTION: Senator, if Hillary Clinton is the nominee, will you support her?

Will you -- will you throw your support behind her if she wins -- in your party, will you support her?

JOHN EDWARDS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I fully expect to support the Democratic nominee and I fully expect to be the Democratic nominee.

QUESTION: What if it's Hillary Clinton?

EDWARDS: I stand by what I said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He's also insisting he wasn't precisely quoted by "The New York Times". Not a ringing endorsement, I should say that.

CAFFERTY: Well, this is what we used to refer to as a thumb sucker back in the newsroom in Reno, Nevada, where I cut my teeth in this business.

I mean aren't they supposed to be against each other right now?

That's the idea of these primaries. The other idea that kind of gets under my skin a little is this -- this blind allegiance that we're all supposed to have toward these two major political parties.

Says who?

These two parties are the reasons we've got the problems we've got. If more people registered as Independents and turned their backs on the Republicans and Democrats and started down a different road, we might see some daylight on some of this stuff. But it doesn't look like it's going to happen any time soon.

TOOBIN: I think John Edwards is acting like a petulant jerk.

(LAUGHTER)

TOOBIN: I mean there's -- are you kidding?

I mean does he honestly think that there's no difference between Hillary Clinton and the Republicans on health care, on the war in Iraq?

I mean these elections are supposed to be about something. It's supposed to be about issues. And if you care about issues, there's a big difference between the Democrats and Republicans. I don't think he's gaining himself any credit with this nonsense.

BORGER: Look, John Edwards knows who he's talking to. He's talking to voters in Iowa and he's trying to appeal to them. He knows that's the primary -- the caucus that he's got to win if he's going to survive in this race. And those are the anti-war Democrats who don't like Hillary Clinton. And he has been using Hillary Clinton as his foil throughout this entire campaign.

So, yes, he does sound petulant. But on the other hand, he knows his audience. And those are the voters he is trying to appeal to right now. And they don't like Hillary Clinton. And they don't want to hear from him that he might endorse her somewhere down the road.

TOOBIN: But they're hard core Democrats. They want to win the election.

BORGER: Right...

TOOBIN: Democrats are desperate to win. Acting like you might -- you want to -- do you think he'll appeal to people by becoming Ralph Nader...

BORGER: But this is a slice...

TOOBIN: ...who cost Al Gore the election in Florida?

BORGER: But this is a slice of the Democratic Party -- a slice of a slice of a slice that goes to the Iowa caucuses, that doesn't like Hillary Clinton and that will vote for John Edwards. And he is not doing anything to alienate not one of those caucus goers.

CAFFERTY: Plus, the Democrats are just like an Italian family in Brooklyn anyway. You get nine of them in a room, there'll be a fight in 10 minutes about something. It's just what they do.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: Get ready for some e-mail on that from your friends in Brooklyn.

Let's talk a little bit about Mitt Romney. Gloria, you know, he's spending -- he's already spent more than $10 million in campaign commercials, mostly in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. And he's doing really well in those states. I guess money talks.

BORGER: Yes, I guess money talks. He's also written a check for -- or a couple of checks -- for $17 million of his own money in his campaign. Look, you know, this is his strategy -- slow and steady, early states, get the momentum, then be able to compete with someone like Rudy Giuliani, who's very well known nationally and polling well in the national polls.

BLITZER: Jack...

BORGER: That's his strategy.

BLITZER: Jack, what do you think about the strategy...

CAFFERTY: No, I agree with her. He was an unknown...

BLITZER: ...of just spending a ton of money on commercials?

CAFFERTY: Yes. He was an unknown commodity compared to people like Rudy or even a Fred Thompson. So, you know, he's got the lead in Iowa and in New Hampshire and in South Carolina. And if he can, you know, if he can come out of those three places with a win, then he's got some momentum. It might be short-lived, but maybe he can use that to begin to cut into Rudy's lead.

So, you know -- and money is -- is part of the equation, unfortunately. That's -- you've got to have the big bucks to play this game. That's why you and I will never be president -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Or any of us.

All right, Jeff, what do you think?

TOOBIN: Well, I just think Mitt Romney has been a very smart candidate so far. He has spent his money in a very efficient way.

What I want to know is how Rudy Giuliani spent nearly as much money without running a single television ad?

Where does all that money go?

BLITZER: That's a good question.

BORGER: You know where it goes?

BLITZER: Gloria, what's the answer?

BORGER: Campaign staff. Just ask John McCain. You know, you have a large campaign staff when you're running a national campaign, which is what McCain thought he was running, until he ran out of money. That's what Rudy Giuliani is running, and he hasn't run out of money yet. But he might if he starts going on television.

BLITZER: We're almost out of time, Jeff.

But I want your quick reaction. Fred Thompson getting a major endorsement from an anti-abortion group, the National Right to Life group.

What do you think, is that going to salvage his -- his campaign, which seems to be in trouble?

CAFFERTY: Fred Thompson is going nowhere. Nowhere.

BLITZER: All right that was concise.

CAFFERTY: You said you wanted a quick reaction.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: That was quick. That was concise.

Thanks very much, Jack.

Don't go away.

We've got The Cafferty File coming up.

Gloria and Jeff, we'll see both of you back here tomorrow.

Thanks very much.

Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his show. That begins right at the top of the hour. He's on assignment in Seattle tonight -- all right, Lou, what's going on?

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": On assignment on the "Independents Day" tour, coming to you live from Seattle, Washington tonight, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Tonight, we're reporting on corporate America's refusal to stand up for America's working men and women and their families and stop importing cheap workers from overseas. New research showing corporate America's assertions about a shortage and math and science students in this country are simply, utterly untrue. We'll have the report.

Also, troubling new evidence that the American dream may never become a reality for an increasingly large number of our fellow citizens, particularly African-Americans. We'll have that report. And you will, I guarantee, be outraged.

Boeing's streamliner aircraft is supposed to be one of the country's great success stories. But that Dreamliner is facing huge delays because Boeing exported much of the aircraft's production -- that's right -- overseas.

And we'll be examining the outrage over the State of Oregon's decision to send an American child to live in Mexico against the wishes of the child's parents and his foster parents. By the way, the child is an American citizen.

Does that mean anything anymore?

We'll explore that question and a lot more tonight.

All of the day's news at the top of the hour.

Please be with us -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Are we calling you, now, Mr. Independent, Lou?

Is that right?

DOBBS: You can -- yes, sir.

BLITZER: All right.

DOBBS: But you can call me Lou.

BLITZER: I'll call you Lou, Mr. Independent.

Thanks very much.

DOBBS: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Does the decline in the number of U.S. casualties change your mind about the war in Iraq?

Jack Cafferty is standing by with your e-mail and The Cafferty File.

Also, why do so many people want to see Pakistan's president take it all off?

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty.

He's got The Cafferty File.

There he is.

CAFFERTY: Wolf, the question this hour is does the decline in the number of U.S. casualties change your mind about the war in Iraq?

My producer, Sarah Lieder (ph), just told me she read through more than 100 letters to get these e-mail responses we're going to read you here.

Nobody said yes -- nobody.

Alma writes from Watertown, New York: "Fewer deaths for the wrong reason are still too many deaths for the wrong reason. How could it possibly change anyone's mind? You either know it was wrong from the get go or you're still drinking the Kool-Aid."

Tim in Paradise, California: "If I had a memory that only went back a few months, then this news might be encouraging. Unfortunately, in total this year has brought the most deaths of U.S. troops since we have been there. How can this be anything but bad news?"

Sylvia in Tamarac, Florida: "Why bother to ask the public what their opinion is on the Iraq War? Polls give the answer. And no matter how much we complain, it falls on deaf ears. Our legislators do nothing."

Lizzie in Palo Alto, California: "As a hard line pacifist, I'm quite sure nothing will change my opinion on this ridiculous war. I was against the war before it was cool to be against the war. Even if none of our soldiers is killed, we are still throwing billions of dollars down a black hole over there instead of putting the money to good use fixing our numerous problems here at home."

Mike in Washington: "The drop in U.S. casualties has nothing to do with what I think about the war. This war is illegal, immoral, arrogant and a mistake. The number of casualties only affects how bad I think things are. There is no number that will make things look good in my mind. The only legitimate questions are what time tonight do we begin leaving and who gets to go first?"

And, finally, Ted in Long Island writes: "Let's see, we're down to only losing one a day -- that's one son, one daughter, one father, one mother, one brother, one sister a day. I am totally relieved by those statistics. I cannot fathom that the spin doctors have resorted to that as a way to make us feel better about the mess we find ourselves in."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. We post more of them online, along with video clips of The Cafferty File.

That was fun talking to Gloria and Jeff -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. No, it was a good discussion.

And we'll do it again tomorrow, Jack.

CAFFERTY: OK.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

There is a lot at stake in Las Vegas this week for the Democratic presidential candidates. They'll be taking part, as all of you know by now, in our CNN debate Thursday.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is already in Las Vegas. He's getting a little bit of the lay of the land.

And Las Vegas, Nevada, that place has really changed over the years Bill.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right.

So what is new in Las Vegas?

The answer is everything -- including the politics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Las Vegas is a boomtown -- literally. That was the Frontier Hotel coming down -- the Las Vegas Strip's first themed casino. It went up in 1942. It came down Tuesday morning, 2:30 a.m. They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas -- but not for long. This is a town where everything changes -- fast.

Ask the congresswoman.

REP. SHELLEY BERKLEY (D), NEVADA: I've got the fastest growing Congressional district in the United States, with 1.9 million people. We have 5,000 new residents a month coming into town.

SCHNEIDER: Who are all those people?

They're young people with families taking new jobs in the booming service sector.

BERKLEY: We build a school a month in order to keep up with the growth.

SCHNEIDER: They're retirees.

BERKLEY: I've got the fastest growing senior population.

SCHNEIDER: Veterans.

BERKLEY: I've got 212,000 veterans here in the Las Vegas Valley.

SCHNEIDER: And Hispanics.

BERKLEY: I've got the fastest growing Hispanic population.

SCHNEIDER: You've heard how the American labor movement is struggling to survive?

Not here.

BERKLEY: The only community in the United States that has a growing union population.

SCHNEIDER: The politics are changing, too. Until the 1980s, Nevada tended to vote Democrat. It's the Silver State. William Jennings Bryan, the candidate of Free Silver, carried it three times.

The population boom of the 1970s and '80s brought a lot of new voters -- mostly white, mostly Reagan Republicans. Now, with the new population boom, it's changing again.

BERKLEY: We have recently flipped the state. And there are now more registered Democrats than Republicans in the State of Nevada.

SCHNEIDER: Who is this we?

Vegas, baby. Vegas.

BERKLEY: Seventy percent of the state population is located here in Southern Nevada. We've dramatically changed the state.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: With just five electoral votes, now why is Nevada significant?

It's a bellwether state. It's voted for the winner in every presidential election since 1912 -- with one exception, 1976. What happens in Vegas may happen everywhere -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Bill.

I'll see you in Vegas tomorrow.

And this programming note. The debate will take place Thursday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 Pacific.

Pakistan's president may have the most watched wardrobe in the world right now. We're going to take a closer look at why everyone wants him to take it off.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Pakistan's president is being asked to take it off.

CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Never before has the leader of a country been so relentlessly undressed -- verbally.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And he'll take off his uniform.

BENAZIR BHUTTO, FORMER PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: He told me, I'll take my uniform off.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The president said he was going to take off his uniform off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold him to his promise to get out of uniform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That he would take off his uniform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THIS WEEK," COURTESY ABC NEWS)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: Why is it enough for General Musharraf to take off the uniform?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: What more could you want him to take off?

It sounds like he's already been undressed down to his skivvies. It was President Bush whose choice of words first caught folks off guard.

BUSH: And you need to take off your uniform.

MOOS: Take off your uniform?

"Another gay Republican?," joked one post. Liberal Web sites were uniformly unable to resist drawing parallels between uniforms. Air America attributed the take off your uniform line to "President Flight Suit" -- referring to the time President Bush donned a flight suit as he arrived on an aircraft carrier decorated with "Mission Accomplished." And when President Bush told General Musharraf... BUSH: You can't be the president and the head of the military at the same time.

MOOS: ...critics hooted, look who's talking, Mr. President and commander-in-chief.

(on camera): The funny thing is, the next thing you know, President Musharraf did take off his uniform.

(voice-over): A few days after President Bush mentioned it, the general appeared out of uniform to make some concessions. He actually wears suits a lot of the time. Mr. Bush's symbolic demand...

BUSH: And you need to take off your uniform.

MOOS: Echoed another famous challenge...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Only instead of taking down a wall, Mr. Musharraf is supposed to take off his pants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he wants to take his uniform off.

BHUTTO: We want the uniform off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who cares if General Musharraf takes off his uniform?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I must remove my uniform.

MOOS: When it comes to getting a guy to take it off...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For men, nothing takes it off like Noxema medicated cream.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Maybe a guy who's had his share of close shaves needs a little musical inspiration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take it off. Take it all off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO TAPE) BLITZER: We'll be reporting from Las Vegas tomorrow. The debate Thursday night.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now -- Lou.

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